Pilot Best Practices for Airfield Safety

The best practices were developed by FAA staff to help pilots improve safety by giving guidelines that should be followed to keep skills and focus current and vigilant. Remember: over 80% of pilot- caused runway incursions occur during taxi to the departure runway.

Pre-Flight Planning

  1. Review and understand airfield signage and markings.
  2. Review the appropriate airport diagrams. Review any Hot Spots identified on the diagram. Print a copy for use in the cockpit.
  3. Review airfield NOTAMS and current ATIS for any taxiway closures, runway closures, construction activity, or other airfield specific risks.
  4. Brief any passengers on the importance to minimize discussions, questions, and conversation during taxi (maintain a “sterile cockpit”).


  1. Have the airport diagram out and available for immediate reference during taxi.
  2. Review current ATIS for any taxiway closures, runway closures, construction activity, or other airfield specific risks.
  3. During radio transmissions, use correct terminology and proper voice cadence.
  4. Copy the taxi clearance and use the airport diagram to review the taxi route to the assigned runway prior to releasing brakes and beginning taxi.
  5. Eliminate distractions while taxiing in the operational area.
  6. Focus attention and have your "eyes out" of the cockpit when taxiing.
  7. Maintain appropriate taxi speed.
  8. Be alert to similar call signs operating on the field.
  9. Stop aircraft on the taxiway and request ATC clarification if there is confusion regarding aircraft position or ATC taxi clearance.
  10. Prior to crossing any runway during taxi, ensure you have a clearance to cross. Visually check to ensure there is no conflicting traffic prior to crossing the runway.
  11. If there is any doubt that the runway is clear, reconfirm crossing clearance with ATC.
  12. Be aware that hold short lines can be as far as 400’ from the runway due to new Precision Obstacle Free Zone (POFZ) requirements.
  13. Maintain a “sterile cockpit” when taxiing.


  1. If cleared to “line up and wait”, turn on all exterior lights except take-off/landing lights. If you have been holding in position on the runway for more than 90 seconds, or upon seeing a potential conflict, contact the tower.
  2. When “cleared for takeoff”, turn on all exterior lights, including take-off/landing lights.
  3. Note that if you see an aircraft in take-off position on a runway with take-off/landing lights on, that aircraft has most likely received its take-off clearance and will be departing immediately.
  4. When assigned a departure at an intersection versus a full length takeoff, state “intersection departure” at the end of the take-off clearance readback. Double-check your compass heading prior to takeoff to ensure you are aligned with the correct runway.
  5. Conduct "Clearing Turns" to check all areas prior to entering any runway.


  1. Clear the runway at the first available Taxiway. Do not exit onto another Runway unless specifically directed to by Air Traffic.
  2. When exiting the runway, remember that your whole aircraft needs to be past the hold short line in order to be clear of the runway.
  3. Wait until you have exited the active runway and you are sure of your taxi clearance prior to beginning an after-landing checklist
  4. Follow the same Taxi Best Practices above.

Remember: When in Doubt, Ask!

Last updated: Tuesday, September 6, 2022